Shelby Miller Drawing Interest From Multiple Clubs

Right-hander Shelby Miller is a free agent that is apparently intriguing some teams around the league. He tells Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle that the Giants offered him a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training but he has major league offers from two clubs.

At first glance, it might seem strange that Miller is so popular since he hasn’t really been an effective major leaguer since 2015. Once one of most highly-touted prospects in the game, Miller seemed to be cementing himself as a big league starter with the Cardinals from 2012 to 2014. He went to Atlanta in the Jason Heyward trade and had another strong season in 2015. However, after getting traded to the Diamondbacks for three players, including Dansby Swanson, things went south for him. He posted a 6.15 ERA with the Snakes in 2016 and then only logged 38 combined innings over the next two seasons due to injuries.

Since then, Miller has gradually moved into more relief work, with very impressive results in the minors. In 2021, he pitched in Triple-A while in the system of both the Cubs and the Pirates, throwing 24 1/3 innings with a 2.96 ERA, 37.8% strikeout rate and 9.2% walk rate. He got brief looks in the majors with both clubs but struggled to a 9.24 ERA in 13 games.

In 2022, Miller started the year on a minor league deal with the Yankees but eventually opted out and signed with the Giants on another minors pact. Between the two orgs, he tossed 53 1/3 innings with a 2.87 ERA, 31.2% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate. The Giants selected him to the big league roster late in the season and put him into four games, though Miller put up a 6.43 ERA in that brief showing.

Despite that lack of recent MLB success, it stands to reason that clubs would be interested. Miller’s racked up huge strikeout numbers in Triple-A for two straight years and could be a useful bullpen piece for whoever figures out how to bring those up to the majors. The free agent market for relievers has been quite strong so far this offseason, with Edwin Diaz getting $102MM over five years, Robert Suarez getting $46MM over five years and Rafael Montero getting $34.5MM over three.

Given those robust contracts, it stands to reason that some clubs would look to take fliers on arms that can be had for cheaper. Miller is now 32 years old and has a spotty track record that will prevent him from getting paid at those levels. However, the market conditions seem to be working in his favor and will at least get him a shot in the show with someone. It’s unclear which teams have extended offers to him, but Miller would perhaps be best suited to join a rebuilding club. They would be more likely to have space in their bullpen to take a chance on him and could then look to trade him at the deadline if the gamble paid off.

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